With scrawny 11.9-inch calves, I've been on a mission for years (decades!) to find the very best, most beautiful slim calf boots. There have been successes, but for whatever reason, what remain most elusive are the perfect riding boots for thin calves. Heels and wedges are challenging to find with a narrow shaft, but equestrian inspired? The toughest of all. In this blog I'll review riding boots with calf circumferences published, or reported anecdotally, at under 14 inches around. If your legs are like mine, maybe you'll find your dream boot here :)

Please note: Except where otherwise stated in the captions, all photos & text are copyright this "Howdy Slim" blog and cannot be used elsewhere without permission.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Bed Stu Glaye

The best-smelling narrow calf boots I've ever worn also feature a genius design to conform to skinny calves while also accommodating those with average-sized legs. It's the Glaye by Bed Stu.

Made in Mexico like today's Frye boots, this style combines sturdy construction, bold distressing that bumps the hip factor way up, and buttery soft leather -- including the lining -- that feels great on the leg.

Besides the full zip for easy on and off, there's a cute little partial zip in back (this is the genius design part) that hides a panel of very soft leather. Thinner folks can keep it zipped for a relatively small, though certainly not tiny, circumference of 14.5 inches, while those with fuller calves can unzip for an additional 2.5 inches around.

Leave unzipped for fuller calves, zipped for skinnier-smart, huh?
I wish Bed Stu had made this about an inch smaller around, for a top circumference range of 13.5 to 16 instead of 14.5 to 17, but as it is I think it still looks pretty cute, and not horribly gappy, on my just-under-12" calves....especially since the midcalf measurement is a wonderful 12.5" - yea!

They've gone out of their way to help us with our skinny ankles, too, providing a functional buckle that decreases the ankle circumference from 10.5 on the loosest setting to 10" on the tightest.

The Glaye also gets my vote for coolest sole. How fun is this cherry red?

Shaft height in the size 8 is about 16 inches, which should work fine for all but the tallest or shortest among us.

Important sizing tip: Reviews saying the shoe part of this boot runs small are absolutely correct. The tricky part is figuring out whether you need to order a half size or full size up from what you normally wear. I am between a 7.5 and 8 shoe size, and I took this one in 8. Partly because the rounded toe is forgiving on my right pinkie that tends to get pinched by narrower or pointier-toed footbeds, the 8 felt good on me, both with light stockings and with thin(ish) socks. With thick, heavy socks, I'd probably need an 8.5 -- but I don't think I'd want to subject these beauties to a Chicago winter. I see them more as a 3-season style.

Beauty: *****/5
Value: ***/5 (or better at sale pricing)
Calf slimness: ****/5

In "Tan Rustic/White" as shown here, plus a very cool distressed blackish color -- and, as of early November '16, Amazon has a pretty "teak" shade as well!

Find it at:

Amazon (great discounts on the darker color as of mid May!)

image = screenshot from amazon
p.s. I'm impressed with this brand and was also drawn to its stunning Cambridge style (at right), with its lovely perforation and bit of back lacing for a custom calf fit. My only concern was at 5'4" I might be too short for the Cambridge's 18.5"-tall shaft. Well worth a look for taller boot lovers...

photo c amazon
p.p.s. - Spring 2018 quick update:
I have no idea how long this sale will last, but Amazon is offering big discounts on the gorgeous Bed Stu Weymouth, at left (could it be named after bass heroine Tina? I'm gonna go ahead & decide yes, as she would totally rock this boot) - which, based on my research around the web, is also a narrow calf boot. Quantities very very limited...

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